Petting Zoo is described as a card drafting grid building game for 2-3 players. It’s a cute little game about setting up a petting zoo, though under it’s cute exterior lies something a bit deeper. Self-published by William Burke (II) last year, Petting Zoo is a bit hard to get your hands on. It had a failed Kickstarter a few months ago, and there hasn’t been much news about a relaunch.
The basics of Petting Zoo are fairly simple. Each turn a player will roll a die to enter their zoo and try to earn coins. Coins can be used to buy more cards to add to your grid. Each card earns you coins and can have varying effects on gameplay. The game ends when one of each of the four victory cards are purchased and added to a player’s zoo.
Petting Zoo only takes moments to learn but possesses more depth than an initial glance would provide.
On your turn, you can keep rolling the die to move to cards on your grid as long as you keep making successful moves. To move to a card you must be adjacent to it and have rolled a number listed in the card’s range. Some cards will allow you to move diagonally or jump straight to their cards no matter when they are in your grid, but orthogonally is the general rule. As you move around your zoo you’ll either earn coins or steal them from other players. The smarter you lay out your grid the more likely you’ll be able to continue the movement and rack up coins.
The more coins you can earn, the better. Each of the four victory cards increases drastically in price. Of course, each card also is extremely powerful to have in your zoo. It may be worth saving for the most expensive card to get it’s power, though even the cheapest one still offers a great advantage.
Petting Zoo features 3 wooden pawns, 3 wooden dice, a flimsy rulebook, and the square cards you’ll be using throughout the game. The cards are sturdy, but nothing spectacular. The artwork and box design are fairly bland, featuring just enough to get the theme of the game across.
Petting Zoo provides a satisfying game experience with a lot more choice and depth than meets the eye. At first, the game may seem a bit too random with few cards in your grid and have to rely on the luck of the die to move. Once you figure out how to lay out your grid to maximize your changes to move you come to realize how many options are open to you any given turn.
A copy of Petting Zoo was provided free for review by William Burke (II).